Through a Jungian Lens

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Crested Caracara – A Sign of Dark Times to Come, the Nigredo

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This is a Crested Caracara also known as the Caracara Eagle, King Buzzard, Mexican Eagle, Audubon’s Caracara, and Mexican Buzzard.  I chased this bird up a lot of hills until I was able to get this photo.  I have other photos of him but not as good as this one.  For me it is interesting how this bird is seen as being a member of the falcon family and yet is referred to as an eagle and a buzzard as well by its own name.  Having so many names suggest that he carries a fair number of projections by various groups.  Is anyone interested in the true bird or in the collective opinions of the bird?

For me, he is a Crested Caracara, a fellow that is definitely interested in his own privacy and in keeping his distance from others.  It is often thought that the buzzard symbolises an angry old man, one who has a short temper; and, there is a sense of darkness, a signal of dark times ahead.  However, this doesn’t quite fit with how I understand the psychological presence of this fellow.  Yes, there is a pointed awareness of darkness, but this bird is still a bird, a symbol of spirit that soars above and outside of unconsciousness.

So what is this guy pointing to?  Well, if I accept that he is pointing to darkness, and I understand that it is only through that darkness that I can find the light, I can accept that this signals an alchemical process.  And in alchemy, it is necessary to being with blackening or nigredo.

The nigredo has its parallels . . . in the confrontation with the shadow.  Everything which one has criticized, with moreal indignation, in others, is “served up” in dreams as part of one’s own being.  envy, jealousy, lies, sexual drives, desire for power, ambition, greed for money, irritability, all kinds of childishness suddenly stare implacably at one, out of one’s dreams.  Illusions about oneself and the world fall apart, ideals are revealed as desire for power in disguise, “sacred” convictions as hollow. (von Franz, C.G. Jung: His Myth in Our Time, pp 222-223; cited in Sharp, Jung Uncorked:  Book Two, p. 49)

Yes, coming to terms with all that we have ever denied about ourselves, that indeed is a descent into darkness.  From the birds point of view, it can only get better as one sees the darkness for what it is.  Coming clean, being honest with oneself can only lead us out of our own darkness into the light.


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  1. I live on the Northern California coast, and this morning I saw a Crested Caracara along Hwy 101 in Smith River, CA (just 12 miles south of the Oregon border). I know they are not supposed to live here, but am thinking it was blown north by the storms. Though everyone writes that they are part of folklore, your blog is the only one that suggested a meaning associated with the birds. Thank you.


    April 7, 2011 at 4:54 am

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